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Kentucky Gov. to Defiant Clerk: License Same-Sex Marriages or Resign

Kentucky Gov. to Defiant Clerk: License Same-Sex Marriages or Resign

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has told a county clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples that he should serve all qualified couples or give up his job — but the clerk remains defiant.

Beshear gave that message to Casey County Clerk Casey Davis in a private meeting today, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. Davis, who claims his Christian beliefs won’t allow him to license same-sex marriages, had requested the meeting with the governor earlier this week.

“I advised Mr. Davis that I respect his right to his own personal beliefs regarding same-sex marriages,” said a statement released by the governor. “However, when he was elected, he took a constitutional oath to uphold the United States Constitution. According to the United States Supreme Court, the Constitution now requires that governmental officials in Kentucky and elsewhere must recognize same-sex marriages as valid and allow them to take place.”

Davis, however, told reporters at the capitol that his position hasn’t changed. He won’t issue licenses to same-sex couples, and he also won’t resign. He recognizes that he could be sued or charged with official misconduct, but said, “I’m going to trust in the Lord with all my heart.” He had suggested earlier that the state relieve county clerks of the duty of issuing marriage licenses by setting up an online system, but some legal experts pointed out that would make it difficult to verify some information concerning couples’ eligibility to marry.

Beshear also said he won’t call a special session of the legislature to deal with marriage equality, as some clerks, lawmakers, and right-wing activists had urged him to do. Such a session would be a waste of taxpayer money, he said. All but two or three county clerks in Kentucky are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, he noted, adding, “The courts and the voters will deal appropriately with the rest.”

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has shut down all marriage operations because of her opposition to same-sex unions, and she is facing a lawsuit brought by four couples through the American Civil Liberties Union’s Kentucky affiliate. A gay couple denied a license at her office Monday recorded video of the encounter, which has since gone viral, with more than 1.2 million views on YouTube at press time. 

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